Entries Filed in 'Capitol news'

Solar Energy bill becomes law without Gov. LePage’s signature

April 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Energy Issues, Environment, Issue 40

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

ReVison Energy installs solar car battery chargers like this one at their headquarters in Portland. Photo by Ramona du Houx

A solar energy bill that passed through the legislature with overwhelming support became law without his Governor Paul LePage’s signature.

“For a decade lawmakers have worked together in a bipartisan manner to move Maine’s energy policy forward, and we continue to do so with this law,” said Democratic Senator Eloise VItelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the bill.“Maine is one of the most oil-dependent states in the country. This law will give the people in our state an opportunity to do something about that.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70 percent of households using it as their primary heating source. According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24 percent of Maine’s electricity.

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Will LePage continue to hold Maine back by vetoing innovation bonds and healthcare?

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Editorials, Issue 40

Maine's capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine’s capitol at night, photo by Ramona du Houx

Other New England states have recovered almost all the job losses due to the Great Recession. Maine stands alone as the only east coast state that has built back less than half the jobs caused by the economic crash. Not the kind of reputation Maine needs, and most of blame falls at the feet of Governor Paul LePage with his dangerous policies and way of governance.

He hurts the state’s reputation by putting down the people of Maine and discourages businesses owners who may be looking to Maine to locate in. He has publicly badmouthed the President, Maine lawmakers, women, students and children. A governor should be promoting the great qualities the people Maine have— their tireless work ethic, hospitality, ability to be easily trained and their community mindfulness. Not to mention the amazing natural attributes the state has from mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and a 2,000-mile long coast.

Last year the Legislature approved bonds for infrastructure improvements and the people of Maine voted for them. This year LePage used these bonds as a bargaining tool (again) by refusing to release them until he got what he demanded. Meanwhile thousands of construction workers were delayed from working. They had to wait until LePage was done using them as pawns.

This session a $50 million bond proposal passed the Legislature, of that $40 million are for an innovation/small business bond proposal was approved by the Legislature.

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Governor LePage’s vulgar language has no place in Maine politics

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news

This expose reminds people in Maine what is behind LePage’s behavior, which discredits most everyone in the state and only benefits cooperate interests. Let’s not forget.

There were a number of bills about transparency that the legislature approved this spring, however they have been vetoed by LePage. Some may be brought back to the legislature for a another vote to try and override the vetos.

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Maine DHHS transparency bill fighting fraud vetoed by LePage

April 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Health Care, Issue 40

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol, photo by Ramona du Houx

The Legislature sent Governor LePage a bill that would require Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services(DHSS) to be more transparent and accountable to Maine citizens but vetoed it.

“I sponsored this bill, L.D. 1829, because the fight against fraud and abuse in our public programs needs to be one of the highest priorities. Part of the problem is that we aren’t working from a common set of facts that let us know what the DHHS is doing well and where it needs to improve,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee. He is also a health care executive whose background is in the management of state Medicaid agencies.

The measure would have required the DHHS to give an annual accounting of all its efforts to fight fraud, waste and abuse in MaineCare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (cash assistance) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamp assistance): what’s working and what isn’t, what the DHHS is doing to fight crime and what it is doing on the front end to prevent fraud.

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Sen. Haskell’s law protects businesses from false patent claims

April 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Issue 40

A bill sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Anne Haskell to make it harder for “patent trolls” to harass and extort money from Maine businesses has been signed into law by Governor Paul LePage.

“These scammers are a drain on honest businesses and the Maine economy,” said Senator Haskell. “This new law will discourage fraud while still protecting honest patent holders.”

A “patent troll” is a person or company that claims that a patent it holds is being infringed upon by a business, and then threatens to sue the business unless outrageous licensing fees are paid. Businesses are faced with the choice of paying off the troll or risking expensive and time consuming lawsuits.

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LePage’s veto spree hurts people, the environment, education, jobs and Maine’s quality of life

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Economy, Issue 40

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

The most widely known veto of Governor Paul LePage’s was when he decided not to accept any Affordable Care Act funding from the federal government for Medicare. The state would have had free funding for three years and 70,000 people would be covered with healthcare insurance. Instead those people are at risk and Maine’s hospital debt is rising once again.

Another problem with LePage’s veto of healthcare for over 70,000 people in Maine is that by doing so he will incur greater costs to the state. The reimbursement from the federal government of 3 to 1 in Medicare dollars has been going to Maine’s hospitals to repay the debt the state owes them. Without that funding that debt, which LePage was so critical of last year, will again begin to rise.

“Medicare reimbursement matching funds went to the hospitals with the system known as “Pay as You Go,” to pay our debt that had accrued over decades. Without federal funding the state’s debt to the hospitals will begin to go up again,” said former Gov. John Bladacci. “The more tragic reality about not accepting the ACA funding is that people will not have sufficient access to healthcare which could save their lives. Healthcare is a right not a privilege.”

Maine hospitals, which have backed the Affordable Care Act federal funding, are expected to lose $730 million in Medicare reimbursements by 2022.

LePage also vetoed a measure that would have reinstated solar rebates and started a thermal heat pump incentive. These are two measures that would have spurred Maine’s innovation economy and helped combat oil bills with renewable energy.

This apparent anti-business governor’s veto spree didn’t end there.

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Maine’s local food hub bill vetoed in Gov. LePage’s veto spree

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Creative Economy, Issue 40

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx

As part of his nine-bill veto spree today, Governor LePage killed another bill that received strong bipartisan support from the Legislature. The measure, LD 1431, encouraged the use of Maine-produced food in Maine schools.

“It is unfortunate that the governor does not value this bill for what it is – a collaboration between his own administration’s departments of Agriculture and Education to help grow institutional markets for Maine farmers and fishermen,” said Senator Chris Johnson, who is the sponsor of the measure. “And it helps the food service in more Maine schools succeed in providing healthier food for our children just as innovative school systems in Maine are already doing.

The bill supports the creation of “food hubs” where locally produced food can be aggregated, minimally processed (such as washing and chopping), stored, and distributed. It also creates a competitive, grant-funded school food service training program, and seeks federal grants to operate the program.

The bill received strong bipartisan approval from the Legislature with a vote of 33-0 in the Senate and 120-19 in the House.

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Rep. Seth Berry: Maine needs small business and innovation bond package

April 20th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Capitol news, Issue 40

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine's Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

The VolturnUS 1:8 first offshore floating wind turbine in the Americas started producing electricity on June 13, 2013. Maine’s Innovation Bond program jump started the UMaine project.

By House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham

We have to face some hard truths about Maine’s economy. We are struggling to shake off the effects of the recession. Others are passing us by when it comes to recovery, but Maine does have a great thing going for it when it comes to possibilities for job creation.

I have the honor of co-chairing the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. This bipartisan panel has done some really amazing work to spur job creation and move our economy forward. Just this week, the Legislature overwhelmingly passed a set of bond investments created by our committee, which are targeted to help small businesses grow, and to boost high tech innovation.

Many of these are long overdue investments that support the little guy: small but promising businesses from around the state, as well as our farmers, foresters, and fishermen.

Maine needs these investments now to address our lagging job creation.

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Rep. Fowle’s Maine veterans court bill heads to governor’s desk

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Issue 40, Public Safety

The Maine Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill to support and expand Kennebec County’s successful Veterans Treatment Court program. With unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate, the measure now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

The Veterans Treatment Court currently operates in Kennebec County and is open to any newly returned veteran in the state but may be difficult to access for veterans living farther away. Rep. Lori Fowle, the bill’s primary sponsor, said her measure would provide a stable source of funding that would allow veterans courts to slowly expand to other parts of Maine.

“I want to thank lawmakers for these strong, bipartisan votes recognizing that we have to do more to help these veterans rebuild their lives,” said Fowle. “The Veteran’s Treatment Court is already achieving success, and this bill will ensure that success continues.”

The two-part bill would fund a part-time prosecutor to ensure that Kennebec County’s veterans court can continue on stable financial footing.

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Bill would have provided rebates for heat pumps and solar panels in Maine killed by Republicans

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Creative Economy, Energy Issues

ReVision installation on EcoVillage’s showcase GO Logic passive solar home. photo by Ramona du houx

ReVision installation on EcoVillage’s showcase GO Logic passive solar home. photo by Ramona du houx


In a 22-13 vote, the Senate Republicans sustained Governor LePage’s veto of a bill that would have provided rebates for solar panels and heat pumps for low-income Mainers. Overriding a veto requires two-thirds, or 24 Senate votes.The Senate originally supported the measure in a vote of 22-12. Republican Senator Ron Collins initially supported the bill then flipped his vote and supported Governor LePage’s veto.

“Despite Maine’s abundant solar resource, we are the only state in New England with zero policy support for solar energy. Gov. LePage’s veto of the solar rebate bill, and the Senate’s failure to override the veto, demonstrate that our state leadership thinks fossil fuels are the way to go. This is reckless in a state that already has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in New England, while the state’s biggest industry, tourism, is predicated on a pristine natural environment,” said Phil Coupe of Revision Energy.

The measure would have reestablished the solar rebate program under Efficiency Maine and helped Mainers install more than 1,250 new solar panels and heat pumps at Maine homes and businesses.

“This bill would have created jobs in an emerging industry and helped low-income Mainers heat their homes,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “Why would you oppose jobs for Maine, or assistance for the elderly and low-income Mainers struggling to pay their oil bills? It’s disappointing Governor LePage’s veto spree has once again hurt our economy and hurt some of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels and is the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source.

According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.

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